A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Dottie Lux, manager of the Queen of Hearts Art Gallery and co-creator of Queer Cannabis Events. The topic of the day was about the future, specifically the future of cannabis-themed functions out here in the California Bay Area. QCE is looking to change the way cannabis-themed events are held out here and hopefully, one day, change how these events are held around the country. By placing an emphasis on the sustained visibility of the LGBTQI community in the cannabis industry, especially those of color, Queer Cannabis Events has done something many other cannabis companies have failed spectacularly at doing–creating long-term relationships with the community it serves.
The following is a transcript of our Q&A. If you would like to learn more about Queer Cannabis Events and the amazing work they are doing, be sure to follow their Instagram.
Petey: Hi Dottie, thanks for speaking with us. First of all, thank you for the amazing work you are doing and for creating this community. I wanted to reach out to you to get a sense of what is Queer Cannabis Events, how did you all start and what are some of the things that you provide?
Dottie Lux: Cool. Well, first of all, thank you. Queer Cannabis Events is directly related to the Queen of Hearts Art Gallery and the Benefit Health Collective, soon to be called The People’s Dispensary. BHC is really revolutionizing the way that investing in large companies, especially cannabis companies, is going to work, or is currently working. It’s a company that is over ninety percent women and over ninety percent people of color and has the same demographics for queers. Our focus is on creating a space where artists of all types can be celebrated through the cannabis filter. We have had all kinds of events, from stretching– like a “smoke and stretch” sess–to weekly acupuncture. We have a different exhibit going up right now. We’re a gallery so we are featuring different artists doing murals on our walls. And it’s all POC (people of color) LGBT and women so it’s awesome to see those kinds of things aligning. I mean, cannabis has been, especially in California, historically dominated by white male culture, straight male culture, and everyone else is either not taken into account or worse they’re incarcerated. So I’m really enjoying the little bit that we can do to create some community and release art.
Petey: How did Queer Cannabis Events begin?
Dottie Lux: It all started when Queen of Hearts began throwing events. It’s exciting for us to see how that has blossomed. There are some other Instagram accounts; one of which is queer cannabis social and we have reached out to them to try to combine forces and they seem to be not interested in that. They’re like, “we’re doing good on our own. Thanks!”. So I don’t know who they are but I am excited to continue to create community. I’ve been in the nightlife and bar industry for the past 15 years so, on a personal note, I’m very interested in seeing how events and nightlife will intersect with cannabis now that it’s recreational. And I’m really looking at other states to see how they incorporate music and art and things that you would see at a bar and how they are revolutionizing the idea of medicating or recreating with cannabis versus alcohol.
Petey: How do you spread the news about your events? Is it more through social media, is it word of mouth, is it a little bit of both?
Dottie Lux: Well, it’s a little bit of everything. It’s definitely word of mouth and social media, of course. Being in this climate where it’s a little bit of an in-between phase, Queen of Hearts is a lounge and gallery, Benefits Health Collective pops up whenever there are events so that folks have access to cannabis during those events. But it’s also a cannabis-friendly event space because it is a private event space. So it’s really difficult… As far as I know, the only kind of public event space that has use permission would be Magnolia in Oakland. So what is cool is we are creating a community of people that want to be members of our private club. It’s more than just purchasing weed; it’s getting to know people. The people that come back to our space and events become our friends and are part of our community that we interact with.
Petey: What are some of the things you would like to see Queer Cannabis Events doing in the future? Is there someplace that you visualize Queer Cannabis Events being?
Dottie Lux: Well, like I said, after spending so many years in this alcohol driven environment, I really began to see a lot of destructive behavior. When I watch and interact with people using recreational or medical cannabis, they are inspired and full of growth and saying things like I feel so much better. Whereas I’m pouring drinks for folks and they’re saying I never want to do this again. So the future for me looks like an environment that is whole and healthy and is supportive of wellness.
For more information about the Queen of Hearts Art Gallery click on this link here.
My name is Petey Wheatstraw, also known as Charles Stevens. I’m an avid marijuana smoker, writer, devoted father and non-profit minion– not necessarily in that order. A Chicago native I’ve lived off and on in the Bay Area since 1996. Seven years ago I finally settled here to capture the changing face of our communities.